Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ask, Seek, Knock

As I read from the New Testament the other day, I ran across some familiar verses that caused me to stop and think. Like most people, I have either read or heard them multiple times, but the implications of what the Savior is saying in them has never struck me with as much force as it did at this time. Indeed, I doubt if I ever stopped to think about or try to understand what the Savior was really teaching in the scripture. The words are simple, and not easily misunderstood, but I think the power of the promise behind the statement could be lost on most individuals... Or maybe its just me. Anyways, in Matthew I read, 

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."

Now think about that for a second. Do you really believe that anything you ask for, you will recieve? For myself, I wasn't quiet sure.That is an incredible promise that holds a lot of weight! Is it true?!

After a brief internal debate, I decided that it certainly is. Now don't get me wrong, I don't think it is all just as easy as asking for something. If that were true, I would probably be a much cooler person then I am now... Hah no, there is definitely a process to receiving what ever it is that we ask for. In fact, I believe the Savior laid it out pretty clearly.  For the first time, I looked at the scripture not as three separate promises, but more of a whole process of receiving some great heavenly gift. Upon searching for more on the subject, I found an incredible talk by one of our beloved apostles, Russell M. Nelson. Elder Nelson says,

"Revelation need not all come at once. It may be incremental. “Saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more.”  Patience and perseverance are part of our eternal progression."

Nephi on the Boat to America
Think of the process of receiving what ever it is that you want as a journey. You have to first ask where you want to go, seek out how you are going to get there, and then go and do. The prophet Lehi in the Book of Mormon, after seeing the vision of the destruction of Jerusalem and the promised land couldn't just up and be there. No, they had to journey out, endure hardship, build a boat and safely guide it to the Americas, all the while relying completely on the Lord. I believe the same process can be applied to anything we ask of the Lord. We can ask, and He will answer. I know that is true. After we get our answer though, we have to do something with it. It is not enough just to ask, we must also be ready to seek and knock.

When we are pursuing answers or revelation for the benefit of ourselves and others, we will always be more successful as we become more Christ-like. I this is true. Our Heavenly Father wants to bless us with everything we desire, so long as those desires are righteous. He loves us, and wants whats best for us. When we draw nearer to Christ, we are able to see more clearly what His will is for us, and can discern how we can arrive at the answers we desire. Elder Nelson also gives us great guidelines to find the answers we are looking and asking for. His advice is,

"For each of you to receive revelation unique to your own needs and responsibilities, certain guidelines prevail. The Lord asks you to develop “faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God.” Then with your firm “faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, [and] diligence,” you may ask, and you will receive; you may knock, and it will be opened unto you."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

He Knows You.

"Nothing will surprise us more than when we get to heaven and see the Father and realize how well we know Him and how familiar His face is to us." — Pres. Ezra Taft Benson

That quote has been resonating in my head for the last week. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. The implications are powerful! He knows us well, and wants us to live with Him. Will we regret anything from this life when we pass? Will we see Him, remember His face, feel His love, and be ashamed and sorry? Are we doing all we can to show how much we love Him?

I wish I could show people just how much their Father in Heaven loves them. His love is manifest to me as I do the small and simple things that He asks and keep His commandments. In return, He sends the Holy Ghost to gently nudge me in the right direction and give me comforting assurances that what I am doing is correct, and that He approves. From these feelings, we can know that we are engaged in what we need to be to be able to return to live again with Him. I have come to cherish and value these feelings.

Anyone who is searching for their Heavenly Father will find Him. He is not as far distant as we sometimes suppose. Indeed, Christ himself tells us that if we look for Him, we will find Him.

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:" Matthew 7:7

That promise is absolute. There is no, "maybe Ill find him," or "maybe He will answer me." He promises very plainly that He will manifest himself unto us. I know that is true. I know that he loves each and every one of us, and as we follow His son, Jesus Christ, and have faith, repent, and are baptized, we can be granted a spot alongside Him for eternity. Nephi says,

"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."

I am so thankful for that promise.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Eternal Life for Dummies

I think everyone, at one point or another has wondered, "Will I make it to heaven? What do I have to do to get there?" Really, its pretty simple, let me break it down for you. Simply stated, te only way back to our Father in Heaven and eternal life is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the Book of Mormon, we read, "that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent" (Mosiah 3:18).  This gospel is broken down into five easy steps, five things we can do to ensure that we will be welcomed home to peace and rest by God. President Joseph Fielding Smith laid it out simply and clearly in a talk called, "The Plan of Salvation." He said,

"First, we must have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; we must accept him as the Son of God; we must put our trust in him, rely upon his word, and desire to gain the blessings which come by obedience to his laws.

Second, we must repent of our sins; we must forsake the world; we must determine in our hearts, without reservation, that we will live godly and upright lives.

Third, we must be baptized in water, under the hands of a legal administrator, who has power to bind on earth and seal in heaven; we must through this sacred ordinance enter into a covenant to serve the Lord and keep his commandments.

Fourth, we must receive the gift of the Holy Ghost; we must be born again; we must have sin and iniquity burned out of our souls as though by fire; we must gain a new creation by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Fifth, we must endure to the end; we must keep the commandments after baptism; we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord; we must so live as to acquire the attributes of godliness and become the kind of people who can enjoy the glory and wonders of the celestial kingdom.

Now I thank the Lord for his goodness and mercy and grace in revealing anew to us in this day the terms and conditions upon which salvation may be won. I thank him for the restoration of the priesthood and power which enable us to perform the ordinances of salvation so they will be binding on earth and sealed everlastingly in the heavens."

(The full talk is amazing, I reccomend you all read it)

When I read this, it really helped me put everything I do as a missionary into perspective. The process of obtaining eternal life is easy! We must first have faith in Christ and the hope he offers. Then we must act on that faith, and repent, or change, to be bring our lives in closer harmony with His teachings.  To show Him that we are truly repentant, we enter into a covenant with Him and are Baptized. Because we promise to always follow Him, our Heavenly Father promises to give us the Holy Ghost, which we recieve through the priesthood authority. With the gift of the Holy Ghost, we are then well equipped and able press on through life more easily, always striving to be better and continue repenting. 

I know that through the constant application of having faith, repenting and renewing that promise that we make at baptism, we can continually progress and change until we reach that perfect day. We probably won't get there soon, but because of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we are able to progress. I am so greatful for the price he paid to offer me the wonderful blessing of eternal life. Through the gospel of Jesus Christ, I have been able to find peace and joy in this life, and a hope for the same in the next. I know that those same blessing are available to you as you live the gospel as well.